On Leaders: Perseverance and Growth

I heard Rick Warren say that he has had far more leadership failures than he has leadership successes. Many of his ideas that have been implemented at his church have been colossal failures. But what has made all the difference is that the things whatever is done right is then leveraged for greater success and the many things that have missed or fallen short they have (1) sought to learn from and, more importantly, (2) refused to allow those things to paralyze them from taking more risky decisions.

Whatever you think of Rick Warren’s theology, here is one thing you must admit: he is an effective leader. And part of the reason is such an effective leader is his commitment to keep trying.

A couple of sports illustrations would be appropriate at this point. Babe Ruth is most known for being a home run king. But one rarely known reality was that he was also  a strike out king. In fact, he struck out 24% of the time he came up to bat. The rest of the league during his era struck out 12% of the time. But he didn’t let striking out keep him from swinging for the fences. Michael Jordan developed a reputation for being a clutch player and part of his reputation included his history of hitting game winning shots. But the reality is that he actually missed more last-second shots to win the game than he made. In Harvest world, we call it the courage of the second decision. A leader must be willing to punt, and make another go at it in the future.  It is a trait of successful leaders.

What we are talking about here is perseverance. But perseverance is only worthwhile if the leader is growing. When the leader stops growing then perseverance has shifted to unhealthy stubbornness.

I have no desire to follow someone who is not growing. We often say, “No one is perfect.” True, but it is more accurate to say, “Everyone is far from perfect.” If you expect to find a “perfect” leader, make sure you follow from a great distance because if you get close to your leader, your bubble will burst fast. Better to abandon your search for the “perfect leader” (at least among humans), and find leaders who are going the right direction. If they are going in the right direction and they are committed to personal growth, then you have found a worthy leader. Putting these two qualities together, we can say: A great leader is one who is growing the right direction.

As a leader I try to find mentors who are growing the right direction, and as I follow them, I too will be a leader growing the right direction.

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